Born and raised in New England, Adams learned the clarinet from his father. He began composing at age ten and heard his first orchestral pieces performed while still a teenager. The intellectual and artistic traditions of New England, including his studies at Harvard University and attendance at Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts, helped shape him as an artist and thinker. After earning two degrees from Harvard, he moved to Northern California in 1971 and has since lived in the San Francisco Bay area.
One of America’s most admired and respected composers, John Adams is a musician of enormous range and technical command. His works, both operatic and symphonic, stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. Over the past 25 years, Adams’s music has played a decisive role in turning the tide of contemporary musical aesthetics away from academic modernism and toward a more expansive, expressive language.
Luciano Berio (1925-2003) was born in Liguria, attended the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi, and in 1952 he attended the courses taught by Luigi Dallapiccola at Tanglewood, USA. From the early fifties Berio made a name for himself as an authoritative exponent of the new generation of the musical avantgarde. This period saw the composition of Cinque Variazioni (1952-53), Chamber Music (1953), Nones (1954) and Serenata (1957). Berio and Maderna created Italy’s first studio of electronic music at the RAI Milan headquarters, inaugurated the following year as the Studio di Fonologia Musicale. Here he was able to experiment with the interaction of acoustic instruments and electronically produced sounds and explore new relationships between sounds and words. Berio is also known for composing a series of virtuoso works for solo instruments under the name Sequenza exploring the full possibilities of each instrument.
Perhaps Berio's most notable contribution to the world of post-WWII non-serial experimental music, running throughout most of his works, is his engagement with the broader world of critical theory (epitomized by his lifelong friendship with linguist and critical theorist Umberto Eco) through his compositions. Berio's works are often analytic acts: deliberately analyzing myths, stories, the components of words themselves, his own compositions, or preexisting musical works. In other words, it is not only the composition of the "collage" that conveys meaning; it is the particular composition of the component "sound-image" that conveys meaning, even extra-musical meaning. The technique of the "collage," that he is associated with, is, then, less a neutral process than a conscious, Joycean process of analysis-by-composition, a form of analytic transcription of which Sinfonia and The Chemins are the most prominent examples. Berio often offers his compositions as forms of academic or cultural discourse themselves rather than as "mere" fodder for them.
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